As adviser to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in 2012, an alarming statistic caught Priya Lakhani’s attention: 1.8 million children were in underperforming schools in the UK.
“I was mortified given there were only 8.2 million pupils overall at the time – so 20% of children in our own country not having the levels of literacy and numeracy that they needed.”
A parent herself and concerned that the UK’s education models were often used for developing countries, Priya explored why the education system was failing and discovered that the sector had been digitally left behind. “We had only gone from a blackboard to a whiteboard and technology hadn’t disrupted the sector like it had everywhere else.”
UK education was in desperate need of an upgrade. One year and two nanodegrees in AI and neuroscience later, Priya had the solution – CENTURY Tech, the personalized learning platform that uses advanced technology to tailor to every student’s needs, as well as providing real-time insights to teachers and parents.
Looking forward, Priya is focused on mass growth; of getting the product to both leading, as well as struggling, educational institutions globally. However, she recognizes that due to change-resistant attitudes in the sector, there is a long journey ahead. “It will take some time to overcome the challenge of convincing educators that there is a tool here that doesn’t replace, but augments them and frees their time to actually teach.”
Her advice to other entrepreneurs is that perseverance is key. “You will fluctuate between euphoria and terror on any given day, but if you believe in what you’re doing, you’ve just got to keep going.”